wpradio.co.uk listens to women

October 1st 2010

www.wpradio.co.uk looks at women in the developing economies, women and the new prostitution laws, and the impact of the budget on women in the UK!

VSO “Women & Development”: In debate Noreine Kaleeba of Uganda and Marg Mayne, CEO VSO.

What is the best way to embark on empowering the lives of women and girls in developing economies? Here VSO’s Chief Executive, Marg Mayne talks to Noreine Kaleeba a patron and founder of The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) in Uganda, and Deputy Chair of Uganda National Health Research Organisation.

They tell wpradio.co.uk reporter, Linda Fairbrother, that the education of girls and women’s involvement in politics is key to lifting women out of poverty and enabling their participation in the economy. VSO now works with partners across a range of programmes in the developing world.

Noreine Kaleeba says: “Women have to be empowered at a very local level, and the older women have to be informed. The young girl has to be given the opportunity to go to school, so education is one of the biggest keys in order to contribute productively to development.

Women have to be involved in politics. It is mostly the men who sit in parliaments, if women are absent from legislative spaces we will never get anywhere in translating agreed conventions and policies into practice. We are progressing, we have learned a lot, but it takes education to empower women, it takes support, it takes guidance, and role models and mentors, women CEOs should take up mentoring.”

Marg Mayne says: “VSO’s work has really developed over the past 15 years. We now work with a range of partners across a range of programmes at a national level working across a system, so our range of volunteers can be even more successful. By working together we take an issue through all sections of society in order that our volunteers can have a catalytic effect on that country.”

Prostitution Regimes in Europe” the Liberal Democrat Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, fights back!

Concern over the last Labour government’s so called “wash-up” legislation is growing. Critics believe some of the laws passed in the last year to further equality and help women, are detrimental to those they seek to help. Already the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has dropped moves to remove anonymity for rape complainants, after protests from the Labour ranks, but now  some Liberal Democrat’s want to see Labour’s prostitution laws reformed, they had made it an offence to buy sex from individuals who were “procured for gain”.

At Birkbeck College, the University of London, academics from all over Europe met to discuss “Prostitution Policy Regimes in Europe”. Boni Sones, our Executive Producer, spoke to Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, a leading Liberal Democrat and Reader in Pscyhology and Social Policy at Birkbeck, Daniela Danna Reader in Sociology at the University of Milan, and Marjan Wijers a Human Rights lawyer from the Netherlands.

Dr Brooks-Gordon said:“There was cross party objections to the new prostitution laws, and people fought very hard for them not to be put in place. They went through towards the wash-up and we have had a lot of problems with the wash-up legislation including the Equalities Bill.

We now have Premises Closure Orders where police can go into women’s homes and turn them out, we have a situation of forced rehabilitation, we are going back to Victorian Britain where sex workers can be rounded-up and forced to have three meetings to educate them out of their behaviour. This false morality is leading more and more women into the criminal justice system, and many fought against it. What they have actually done is given men more power over women’s lives because very often the police are men and it makes women subject to coercion and corruption.”

Rachel Reeves MP and Fawcett’s challenge to the Budget.

Rachel Reeves, the new Labour MP for Leeds West, is supporting attempts to force the government to analyse the impact of George Osborne’s budget on low income households, particularly the regressive effects of the VAT increases. As a former economist with the Bank of England she is backing the Fawcett Society’s judicial review of the budget and its impact on women. Boni Sones asked her why?

The evidence that we do have that was commissioned by Yvette Cooper, The Shadow Works and Pensions Minister, from the House of Commons Library, shows that the cuts in the Budget have a disproportionate affect on women, 72 per cent will impact on women compared to 28 per cent on men, so 6 billion of the 8 billion cuts will fall on women. I don’t think it is right or fair, and I want to know if the government knew that when it put forward the budget, and if not why didn’t it look at the impact on women and children as well?”

Rachel Reeves MP said the challenge could be successful. “People in my constituency are already struggling to get by. As we bring down the deficit we need to do it in a fair way and the Fawcett Society are trying to ensure that the government take into account the impact on women and people with disabilities and ethnic minorities as well, in line with the new Equalities Bill, and none of these things has the government attempted to do.”


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